What Do You Want To Be Known For? With Marina Middleton Of Empowered Confidence (@marinaamiddleton)

Today we’re speaking with Marina Middleton of Empowered Confidence. She is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and podcast host committed solely to helping women build their personal brands.



Jessy: What is up guys? If you are new here, welcome warm, warm, welcome and if you guys are tuning in and you guys have tuned in even one time before and you decided to come back, thank you so much. 

I know this sounds I feel like I, sound inauthentic when I say this. I could not be more grateful for you guys for tuning into this podcast, week over over week. You can have like interesting conversations with people and we put in so much work to this podcast you guys like, this is not an easy thing and this is something that fricking done this podcast since 2018. So the fact that you guys consistently listen and enjoy it, it means so much to me. Seriously. 

So thank you for like your continued support. I’m really excited about our guest today. We just wrapped up our conversation. I invited her on for a number of different reasons, but ultimately y’all hear me talk about fairly consistently about how important personal branding is, and given the state of the economy used to feel like the risky move to be the entrepreneur, but now it feels riskier almost to work for someone because so many of you have experienced at the drop of a hat, you could be let go from a company that you’ve worked out for years and in so many instances, your identity is so intertwined with who they are and what they stand for, and you haven’t had the opportunity or you just simply haven’t done any personal branding for you as an individual.

So when I came across Marina’s Instagram account initially and now have subsequently listened to her podcast and checked it on TikTok in the whole nine, that is what she focuses on. 

She is a personal branding expert and I am just stoked for you to hear like the tips and tricks and philosophies that she looks by and she coaches her clients on.

But before we jump into the episode, I am so stoked we have, I think we have six or seven new events up on the site. We were in like major planning mode and so you guys, this week I’m actually going on vacation next week. Peace out, I’m going to Mexico for the first time. Before I left for vay-kay, I really wanted to make sure that we set everything up and we have so much program, that is on the website for you guys.

Now it’ll link that below in the show notes, iamwiim.com/events, it’s easy peasy though. You are gonna find, how to get the most out of your membership, which is a monthly, event that we host. You’re also going to find two management specific events.

One is a panel discussion that’s gonna be phenomenal. The other is an open chat amongst managers. Our management community is actually the largest community within wiim, so it’s gonna be an opportunity to just like, so I’ll get to know other managers in the group, but also to just discuss like really timely topics, like what are you experiencing?

Can you share contacts? Are you having trouble getting paid by X, Y, Z company? Strategies for pitching whatever our community, whatever you guys wanna talk about. It’s an open chat. That’s happening. 

We also have officially scheduled dates for our next in-person events. We’ve got LA scheduled for June 20th, which is the day before Vidcom starts. We did that very intentionally so we can capture folks who are normally in LA and natives, but also those of you who might be travel through because of VidCon. 

So I hope that you come a day early and attend our event. It’s gonna be phenomenal. And we just launched our New York dates, which are in July, July 27th. 

This will be our third New York event in just a few months. They’re always amazing. Nothing beats meeting people in person, nothing. And I’m a big virtual girl, I prefer working virtually and remote not being in an office, but I almost think that honestly makes me appreciate those in-person experiences that much more. 

We’ve been hosting these IRL experiences now for the past few months. They’ve gone so well. If you’re a member, also worth noting that your tickets are always half off and you get a guaranteed gift bag because we actually ran outta the gift bags at our last New York event. I felt so bad. It was a little bit of a cringe moment and I was like, I think next time, we’re definitely gonna just guarantee that members get them. And if you’re not a member, then you might get one, and hopefully you will, but it’s a guaranteed get for members. Plus you also get half off of your tickets.

So check out our website, iamwiim.com/events. We will link up below, but it’s an easy url. So after the episode, check it out. I hope you attend, all of them. 

All right, so a little bit about our guest today. So her name is Marina Middleton. You may have seen her on social. She’s phenomenal. She’s a mother, she’s a wife, she’s an entrepreneur and a podcast host.

And she’s committed solely to helping women build their personal brand. She’s the founder of Empowered Confidence, which is a personal brand agency. Empowered Confidence teaches current and future female leaders how to leverage their stories and authenticity to build stronger brands, businesses and most importantly communities. 

Marina is also the host of She Did It Anyway, podcast. Prior to entrepreneurship, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and minored in fashion at Johnson and Wales University. Following her college career, Marina worked, for Yahoo, Tumblr and Yahoo News, developing digital media campaigns for some of the most recognized global and Fortune 500 brands.

Her expertise has been featured across numerous publications, including Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, and more. She was named one of the top 10 successful entrepreneurs to build their businesses during a global pandemic. And led a mentor session at Creighton Cultivate around how to build, monetize, and scale your brand. Y’all I was there, and it was so good. So without further ado, introducing Marina Middleton. Enjoy guys. 

All right, so I am super stoked to be chatting with you today, Marina, but first and foremost, welcome to the show. How’s your day going?

Marina: Thank you so much. This is so exciting. My day’s pretty good. I got back from New York yesterday and whenever, I travel, I don’t know about you, but I’m like, ready to be in my like, daily routine and get in my office, do all the things. Even though I love traveling, it’s just so nice to kick off actual my week home. And of course on your podcast.

Jessy: Totally. Home life is nice. Like nothing beats, just like at least sleeping in your own bed, using your own towels, like little things, I think make such a big difference. But, so you’re based in Boston, right? 

Marina: Yep. Yep. In Boston. 

Jessy: Awesome. I wanna hear a little bit more about the, beginning your origin story. Tell me a little are you from Boston? Where are you from? Tell us a little bit more about you off paper. Like we can just seriously, we can check out your LinkedIn. I wanna hear more about you as a human, like where you’re from. And tell us from the beginning he was a kid even.

Marina: Oh my God, I love that. And I love sharing like more than what’s just on LinkedIn for sure. So I was actually born in Egypt. I’m an only child, so came here with my parents, when I was eight. Which is funny looking back at it now because I just realized a lot of the things that I do, I’m like, day to day really stems from what I saw growing up, but grew up really poor.

We were in and out of family homes for a really long time. My parents were both, professionals in Egypt and then when they came here, they started owning restaurants and becoming entrepreneurs, which I didn’t really translate that as them being an entrepreneur growing up. I just thought it’s normal. That’s just what they. 

But yeah, came here really struggled to find like my group of people and like my network and my community. I have a big family, so I always just depended on that. And dealt with a lot of bullying, a lot of, insecurities within myself. And then, went to school for criminal justice.

I originally wanted to translate Arabic for the FBI. And then I did my internship at the maximum prison and I realized this is not for me. If you’re watching the video, like I have pink, I have a oversized blazer, like I’ll probably put some heels later. And I was like maybe criminal justice is not for me.

But, switched into marketing and life just took off from there. Went to New York, lived in New York for a little bit. So even though I’m in Boston, my husband and I go back and forth from New York to Boston, it’s like a 20 minute flight. So it’s really easy. 

Moved to New York. Had my son who’s seven now, and yeah, worked for Yahoo, Yahoo News and Tumblr, for years. And then 2019, December 2019, I got laid off and I was in a very privileged position. 

I was like, do I go out on my own or, do I keep working for a publisher? And it’s really funny, again, reflecting back on like my parents when growing up, they were such risk takers, but they were so nervous to like always make the wrong decision.

And so I just found it really funny that I was in this position where I had to take this big risk and, do something else. And I decided to create Empowered Confidence, which looked very different back then to what you see now. 

But now we are a large personal branding, company that focuses on creating community courses, and events and consulting for women to help them amplify their voices and like really become thought leaders and have a personal brand, not just attached to their business, but, yeah, empower them and build confidence along the way. That’s like my story in a nutshell.

Jessy: That was abridged version and I’m super excited to hear more. I can tell you’re a hustler based on your business, based on what I’ve heard in your podcast, which is awesome, and we’re gonna link to that below in the show notes, but like something in m I was like, I don’t know she’s a hustler and that has to have come from a really interesting upbringing.

I love that your parents were entrepreneurs, and I can totally appreciate, not necessarily appreciating that in the moment. But of course, as an adult, being an entrepreneur yourself, you can look back and be like, that’s exactly what they were. And perhaps that’s even where you get it. And I love that our kids are the same age. I also have a seven year old too,

Marina: Oh.

Jessy: is awesome. You have a little boy, I think I have a little girl. They’re both seven though, which is so sweet. I’d love to hear a little more about how you made this transition from wanting to be in criminal justice, to transitioning to working in marketing. 

Because today when I think of all of that, you’ve accomplished, like I think of you as a go-to for personal branding, which is so unique and special and like a really exciting thing that I try to drill into our listeners and our members all the time, how imperative it is to have your own personal brand. 

So before we maybe jump into that, I wanna hear from you, just not transition, like how did you decide to go into marketing in the first place? Did you explore it before? Like talk to us about that transition.

Marina: Yeah, absolutely. And I love that you even just highlighted, like me seeing my parents as entrepreneurs and immigrants a lot of my work ethics really stems from that. Like they just busted their behinds every single day. And so working very very hard, just comes very natural because I’m like how else would you accomplish the things that you want to accomplish?

And using that and going into school, I come from a very conservative, family. And so going to college was something that was required, like I had to go to school. And so for me, a quote unquote, great job was like being a lawyer or being a doctor, or being a pharmacist.

And I knew I didn’t wanna be a doctor. I knew I didn’t wanna be a pharmacist. And so when I originally did criminal justice, it was like, oh, I’m gonna make my parents really proud, and so I’m gonna be in criminal justice. And I was like, gonna translate Arabic for the FBI, and it was very clear about that.

What today, like how I’m speaking, like my personality that has been me ever since I was younger. And I remember, like I tell this story all the time, having immigrant parents that like report cards were really important and every single report card that I ever got said that I talked too much.

I was too loud, I was too like, bold and all the things. And so I remember like my parents being like, please Marina be a little quieter. Don’t be too loud, don’t do this. 

And with that I grew up thinking that was a negative thing. So again, going into criminal justice seemed right, seemed like what my dream was and I realized quickly that I didn’t want to do that. It just wasn’t me. 

And the one thing that I felt really strongly about and really aligned with is, I’m the type of person I’ll drive through New York and I’ll see a billboard and I’m like, oh my God, that’s such a great billboard. That’s hilarious, right?

I see a commercial and I’m like, oh my God, amazing. What an amazing, advertisement something like that. And so with that, I always loved making people feel something, through something else, right? Storytelling was really important for me.

And so transitioning to marketing just felt really organic. My parents didn’t really understand what I was going to do with the marketing degree, but for me, I was like, this just makes sense. I like the idea of advertisement and using graphics to like, make people feel something and I don’t have to, make myself small or not talk too loud or anything like that.

In this field, like if anything that actually works better when you’re in that field. And so doing that, and then my cousin was already working at Yahoo and so that was a great example for me to have that aspiration of one day I want to work for Yahoo or Google. That was like my big goal in college. And so yeah, that was like the transition from criminal justice to marketing.

Jessy: And what a cool transition that is because like it’s great that you had a family member who like could show you the ropes because a lot of people who work in marketing, I’ve found certainly not all of them, but like a good percentage don’t necessarily have formal training in marketing, but they have a mentor or, they’re self-taught or they take a certificate program or something like that.

But I don’t know about you, but when I was in college I was like, I have a degree, I have a bachelor of fine arts in theater. So like weirdly enough, I do see that I have used that degree, but like in a super roundabout way, it’s certainly not what I imagined for myself in college.

And I bring that up because like when you were 20 years old, who the hell knows what we wanna do for the rest of our lives, but thank goodness there’s time, there’s time to figure it out. 

And I love that you tried something and instead of white knuckling your way through it and being like, I don’t know maybe this one experience wasn’t right for me, but maybe like really working for the FBI ultimately and like sticking with it, that it will be right for me and I will make it right for me.

But it sounds like you had a different experience, which is went through something and you. I’m self-aware enough to know that this isn’t the right fit for me and had the bravery to like completely pivot to something different, and that’s really admirable. 

So you’ve pivoted, you started at Yahoo, you are working in marketing, but then ultimately you decided to focus on personal branding. And I wanna hear more about how you launched this business and the few people who are unfamiliar with you, tell people what you do on a day-to-day and what your customers look to you for.

Marina: Yeah, absolutely. So before I started the company, being at Yahoo was such an amazing experience. It was just a really great company to work for. We got Thursday manicures, if you were in California, they did your oil change. It was just a really cool experience and we worked with so many amazing brands.

and so I’ve been on the brand side, however, throughout my time at Yahoo. Since 2013, I’ve been posting on social and I used to do fitness bikini competition, and when I say social, specifically Instagram.

And so I was sharing my journey with, graduating, going into New York, getting my job at a wholesale company called Skip Hop. They got bought by Carters, but I worked there first I ended up having my baby and so I was a single mom at 23 and I shared that on social.

And then I moved back home to Massachusetts and I shared that process and my fitness journey throughout. And then I, after taking a year off, I applied at Yahoo.

And so throughout the years, I was always sharing content on social without any other intention besides just connecting with another human on the other side?

Coincidentally, throughout the years I was building a community and I didn’t know that, right? Like I just thought I was just talking to one other person.

That’s always what I like, really trained myself to think of just like this post is gonna reach one person, it’s going to help them do X, Y, and Z. Whether it’s stay motivated to be healthy, still feel like fulfilled as a human even, after being a mom at times you feel like you’re losing yourself.

And so all of that was just, what I was doing organically. And every once in a while I would start working with brands and, have these very small like deals. I didn’t think much of it because I had this very stable job at Yahoo. 

And throughout the years at Yahoo, every 18 months, usually Yahoo or a big publishing companies, they do a large layoff. And every time someone would get laid off, group of people would get laid off, and I would hear the same thing over and over again. 

I don’t know what to do. Oh my God, who am I outside of this job? I’ve been here for, 15 years, 5 years. I dn’t have anywhere else to go. I guess I’ll apply here. Like they had no focus, right? Their whole worth was dependent on this job, this nine to five salary job.

And so my time came December, 2019 and like I said, I was laid off. And so I originally actually made an announcement and I said, hey everyone, I am going to be a full-time content creator, lifestyle content creator.

And I did it for about a month and I started working with brands and there was something inside of me that was like, this isn’t it? This is just not where I’m supposed to be. I kept thinking like I didn’t go through all this stuff just to go through it. There had to have been a reason for why I experienced all of this hardship growing up.

And the one thing that was very, real was, any decisions, any quote unquote mistake, right? Any lesson that I learned, always stemmed from times that I was lacking confidence.

And so in 2020, the first two months before the pandemic hit, I actually created Empowered Confidence as a confidence workshop, and I signed a deal with Reebok and I signed a deal with the YWCA to do these massive, confidence workshops that go through boundaries and non-negotiables and personal branding and like prioritizing yourself and having your own thoughts and creating original content was one of them.

But again, didn’t think anything of it at that time. Again, throughout that time, still posting on social, my following has gotten bigger or had gotten bigger at that time. 

And then the pandemic hit and I was like, Oh my God, no one plans for this. Like I can’t be in person. My whole business was set up to be in person for this workshop and so I quickly pivoted and I realized I love marketing and I love social media.

It has given me the privilege and the opportunity to go out on my own because I had such a loyal community of people that were bought in on who I was, not where I worked or what I did, but who I am as an individual. 

And that was my aha moment of I can help other people do the same. And we first started with a, business course that really helped women monetize their influence either be an entrepreneur or aspire to be an entrepreneur, helping them grow and rebrand. And then progressed into masterclass or masterminds, retreats. We had summit recently and we’re launching our first personal branding course, program specifically for women.

And so it’s just been such a journey, but it always goes back to this fact of, I wouldn’t be where I was if it wasn’t building my personal brand.

Jessy: So I’m obsessed. I think it’s amazing. We had someone on the podcast like many months ago. She’s my business coach and her whole brand is about no plan B and like what an empowering message that is. And I get a little bit of that from you but what I also just hear is like a ton of like resilience and the ability to just pivot.

Some people are so adverse to change and so hearing your story, like people be like, damn, that’s so impressive. But oh my God, I could never do that for myself. So do you feel like you’ve always been like that or do you feel like, you’re pivoting has been due to just necessity? Like what is that for you?

Marina: I love that you said the pivoting is due to necessity. So I actually used to call myself the professional pivoter. Anytime that I didn’t like something, anytime something didn’t work out, I was just like puling and bustling and just like figuring it out. But what I realized is I’m not actually pivoting, I’m just evolving.

I’m growing. It’s just part of the growth and a lot of us translate evolution with resistance and it’s just too much change and it holds us back. And so I think I’ve always just welcomed evolution, even though I’m very uncomfortable with it. Like by no means was I laid off and I was like, woo now lifestyle content creator, oh, that didn’t work. Woo, let’s like, no, I am like scared crapless, right?

And I am trying to figure it out, but in my head I’ve always had this mindset. I will either find a way or make a way, like that’s just it. It’s not an option to fail. Like it’s not in me, but also, I’m so privileged to wake up every day.

I’m so privileged to be able to have a house and have internet and have, the opportunity to say, I’m going to start a business or I’m going to do this. Some people don’t have that choice and I don’t take that very lightly. And so that plays a huge role of it. Like failing is just not an option. I just can’t. 

Jessy: I do know, and there’s just not, everyone thinks like that. And I enjoy like the hustle, personally. So with your clients today besides your like incredible energy, give us a sneak peek into a session with you as a personal branding coach. What could we expect? What’s your process?

Marina: Yeah. Oh, I love that so much. So we have four pillars that we go through. I don’t know about you, but a lot of the times there’s just so much noise like outside on our internet or anything, so it gets really overwhelming, right? People are like where do I start with this? I don’t know my story. Do I need two Instagram pages? There’s so many questions. 

And so what I’ve done is actually broken down everything into four phases. The first phase is identity, so it all starts with you. Then we go into, the branding phase. So this is all like messaging, visual identity, your personal style.

Three is your business. So like I always remind people like you are your own business, whether you work for someone or not. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to consider yourself a business. And so what are the opportunities for you? Do you wanna start a podcast? Do you want, to speak on stages? Do you wanna start a business? Do you wanna climb the corporate ladder? What is that you want? 

And then the last part is the marketing. Like, how can we get the value that you have out there? To the world to more people. I specifically focus on organic marketing. 

So Instagram, website, email, marketing, podcast, all of that with no paid ads, which is really coincidental just coming from the paid ad world. I just think that you can actually do so much more through word of mouth and organic marketing.

And so we do a bunch of different things with the business course they have the actual library, and every week we focus on something else. And I don’t know if I was like meant to be a school teacher, but I love homework.

And so every single service that I offer comes with this is what you have to do. This is how you’re gonna learn. This is the information you’re going to consume. And then their is always an implementation phase.

I know we spoke briefly like we saw each other at Crate and Cultivate, or you saw that I spoke at Creighton Cultivate a lot of those events, whenever we’re consuming so much content, it’s amazing, but sometimes it’s like the fire hose of too much information.

And so what tends to happen is that we actually don’t implement it. So one of the things that is really unique about our services and working with me is that we are so close to the process of like this is how you learn, but you have to implement it so you see direct results.

And so we do that with our course. We have the business course, like I said, and then we have the mastermind retreat which is super intimate for entrepreneurs. But this is actually the first year that we’re going to bring our personal branding curriculum outside of just consulting, and one-on-ones and be able to provide it to the masses.

But we always go through those four phases of identity, brand, business, and market.

Jessy: I love that you’re talking the distinctions between a more intimate setting where you have the ability to like really digest it and really have it just like seep into you and then interpret it how you need it to be interpreted for you to best use it. 

Cause while those conferences, there are dozens of them. Not worth naming specifics, but while a lot of these conferences are phenomenal and they do serve a lot of wonderful purpose, I have witnessed what it seems like you have as well, which like sometimes it’s too much or sometimes it’s just not in the way that we need to be taught and everybody learns differently.

And so it’s really nice to be able to have a coach or an intimate group where you can all learn together and be able to digest it, how you need it to be digested for you.

So when it comes to the personal branding stuff look like, this is such a topic that I appreciate the heck out of specifically because our community is so used to promoting other people, right?

So like we’re used to promoting other people’s brands or if we’re talent managers, other influencers and stuff like that. And so many people work for other companies and with this volatile like economic world that we’re in right now, it used to feel really risky to be an entrepreneur, but now it almost feels more risky to work for somebody else because at the drop of the hat, they could give you your notice and you’re out of work.

And if you’ve been so tied up in their brand and your identity is so intertwined with them, like where does that leave you? And I just, especially as like a women’s focused organization, I want to empower the women who are listening to the show to say take your power back by establishing your personal brand.

So your personal brand, it’s so good and I love it. You’re talking a little bit, you’re like, I’ve got pink and I got this oversized blazer, and like you have a very clear brand, whether it’s aesthetic and otherwise. Tell us more about your personal branding. Maybe the journey of how you got to where you are today in terms of your own personal brand and like just how it’s so good.

Marina: Oh my God, thank you so much. It has been such an evolution, which I’m welcoming. I actually called this year, my reinvention year. I felt like I was trying to stay the same person that I was in 2013, 14, 15, 16, and it was just like, I’m such a completely different person and as I get older, I evolve, which is such a beautiful thing.

And that is why it’s so powerful to have your own personal brand because you have control of the narrative that exists about you, and you also have control in how you show up. 

And so the evolution I mean I used to share my fitness journey and although I work out every single day now my, personal brand isn’t revolved around, my workouts or my meals or anything like that.

It’s just not. And it’s interesting because a lot of the times, a lot of my clients come to me and they’re like I’ve always been a fitness instructor, or I’ve always been, the CEO of this company and I’ve sold my company. Now what do I do? Or, I’ve worked at, this organization.

Like I can’t talk about anything like that. I always look at talking about different topics or changing industries. Changing focuses as such a great opportunity, and so the evolution for me, it’s like going from posting only fitness contents and my meals and all of that stuff to sharing motherhood and then sharing building confidence and all of that. Those are all opportunities.

And so at any point if anybody’s ever thinking like, I wanna change what I’ve been talking about, that’s great. Lean in on that. And even the evolution of my style, like I didn’t really know what my style was and it took a lot of trial and error to see oh, I actually really like this or no, I don’t really love that. 

And the only way to really figure that out is to step away from the internet, step away from social, step away from comparing to other people and sit with yourself and figure out like, what does Marina like? Who is she?

That’s actually the first part of any of the services that I offer. I don’t care how successful you are or if this is your 20th year building your personal brand externally, you still have to start from step one of the building, the foundation of who you want people to know you for.

Style is definitely one of them, and that doesn’t have to be fancy, you can wear Lululemon or Target every single day, that doesn’t matter as long as you’re just consistent with how you show up. That is what makes a strong personal brand. 

And so the evolution has been crazy, from fitness to mom life to now what today. And really allowing myself and giving myself permission to just show up authentically, whatever that means for me specifically.

Jessy: And so like I can imagine that, in addition to the aesthetics like you talked about and like how you visually show up, cuz social media obviously is a place for aesthetics, your voice is just really important too, and like what you stand for and what you’re putting out there in the world. 

So for some of our members who might be like a little like conflicted or confused about like how to present themselves in that way, do you have any like tips or tricks to how to establish your voice better?

Marina: Oh my God. What a great question. A lot of the times we’re just scared of like who cares? Nobody cares what I have to say. like What is this person from high school or middle school gonna think of me? What are my family gonna think of me? What are my coworkers going to think of me? And so it’s a lot of like self doubt.

And so what I always lean on, and I have said this quote for as long as I could remember, and it’s don’t ever think that what you have to share is insignificant, there will always be one person out there that needs to hear what you have to say.

And I have Ingrained that into my brain always because second, guessing myself and imposter syndrome and all that stuff, fear that never goes away, you are just deciding every day to make another step to, vocalize your opinions, to make a difference. 

And so to really like the tangible thing is one, remember that your voice matters and what you have to say really matters. 

Two, it’s so important to know what value you have to provide. What is your purpose on this earth? Like are you there to empower people? Are you there to, support them in specific area? Do you have a strength and a skill that you can teach someone else or help someone else with? I feel like it is our responsibility. If we have a strength, if we have value to provide, we have to provide it.

And so knowing that, always remember your value matters. And just thinking about like, how can I help that other person, that one person that I’m going to, speak directly to, especially on social. Like how am I going to share that? And I could be in like a small tip. 

A lot of my clients don’t like to get on video, which is funny because I’m always on video. I’m always recording, like I’m talking to myself on the phone all the time, but I understand not everybody is like that. 

And so using different techniques of like of doing just your audio and having videos where it’s just behind the scenes or facing the camera the opposite way and showing what you’re doing rather than just directly to you.

The more that you do that, the more comfortable and more confidence you’re going to build. So just taking steps every day to be like, today I’m going to share this value and reminding yourself there’s at least one person out there that needs to hear what you have to say.

Jessy: And being so like service oriented, I think is just like a really powerful thing because I can imagine a lot of people just get in their heads so much about, I’m nervous about this, or I’m not comfortable on camera. Whatever the case maybe.

So just like reminding yourself of your why and your purpose and your mission and making it about the other people in your community versus yourself, I can assume that’s really helpful.

I also love that you’re talking about, different platforms or like mediums to be able to get that message out there. We talked a little bit about podcasting. We’re both podcast. Even podcasts, we don’t have to do this on video, but like we choose to, I didn’t used to, we have hundreds of episodes where it’s just the audio and I can definitely say not like perhaps this happened.

Like I had to get more comfortable being on video. I was not the initial thing that I was like, yeah, I can’t wait to get on videos. I think it should be, I think it’s best for the show. I think it’s best for the community, but not necessarily comfortable doing that.

But I think broadly, there’s so many social media platforms out there and somebody who’s like, all right, I’m sold Marina. I wanna go out there. I wanna get my voice out there. Which one do I focus on? What do I start? Should I do them all? So are there any social platforms in particular that you’re the most excited about and you think that people should focus on in terms of getting there personal brand out there?

Marina: Yeah, so there. So many out there, like you said, and it’s really going to depend on the type of content you feel most comfortable creating. I love all the platforms. It took me a really long time to get on all the platforms. I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on YouTube now, Instagram, TikTok, I’m not on Twitter. And so that’s a perfect example.

Twitter is very popular, but like I find no joy in just like tweeting random things. It’s just doesn’t excite me. So I’m not on that and I’m not putting pressure on myself, to be on that. 

And so I would actually push the question back to them of okay, what kind of content do you like creating? And who are you speaking to? That’s going to be really important. So if you’re speaking specifically to professionals, maybe LinkedIn is your platform and you can write longer articles. You can spend the time engaging on there, posting videos.

If you are looking to create more evergreen content where you’re talking to, more of the masses, maybe Instagram is the platform for you to use. And so really thinking about the type of content you want to create.

I love TikTok just because it seems like such a low hanging fruit. Like you don’t need a lot of edit, if any, editing at all for your videos, people actually love where it’s like more unfiltered. The algorithm is just more beneficial when you’re thinking about like creating more content at once. And so you can have a video from a year ago and people will still be able to see it. It’ll just keep pumping out content. 

If you have like home or beauty or lifestyle or fashion content, maybe Pinterest is a platform that you want to create to drive traffic to your website.

And so if someone’s like, where do I start? I would start with thinking the type of content you want to create and who you speak to. Because that will determine what platform you’re using. 

I definitely don’t think you should use all of them all at once. especially if you’re a solopreneur or just like one individual. I think that’s in fact too much to put on your plate. 

And so I would start with one or two of them and always remember to repurpose your content. So for example, we have one long form. For our podcast. We then put that on YouTube. We put it on LinkedIn. We then cut it up into smaller 9 by 16.

So we put that on TikTok and Instagram. We use the audio for a podcast. We then extract some of the audios and use them for graphics for Instagram. So like we are repurposing the same content over and over again, which allows us to scale.

And so it’s really important just to remember, you’re not supposed to be creating new content every single day. That’s just too much pressure, and so don’t put that pressure on yourself.

Jessy: Yeah, and be smart about it, like the idea that you can repurpose things. Or just like maybe tweak something a little bit and remake it into something new. That’s just an efficient way to run a business. So I love that you’re saying that. 

So specifically when it comes to podcasts, I do wanna focus a little bit on it because if I’ve heard of, a request from our community more often than not if they wanna get into personal branding, many of them are like someday maybe start a podcast.

We’ve had a masterclass on like how to launch a podcast, but everyone’s show is different, everyone’s format’s different, and there’s just so many different variables and I think it’s great to just hear your firsthand experience. 

So if you could give like two to three tips for anyone who wants to like grow a podcast cuz launching, they can watch the masterclass, but to grow a podcast I think is really important. What’s the point showing up if no one’s there to listen? So if you could give two to three tips to just grow a show, what would you say?

Marina: Yeah, I love that. I would tap into your community a hundred percent,. So that’s the first one, like asking them to share it. If someone is DMing you or messaging you saying that they’re listening, like engaging with that conversation and then thanking them being so appreciative and asking them to share it on their story or recommend it to someone, that’s going to be really important.

Second thing is really remembering that, the conversations that you’re having shouldn’t just be like random conversations that you want to have, it should be very much community driven. 

So figuring out like who is your audience and what do they need to hear? Inevitably, if that is the approach and the strategy you’re taking, more of those people are going to be sharing it on social and being like, I needed to hear this today. This was amazing.

And so having that. And the third thing is video video’s going to be so important. That way you can share it on all different.


Jessy: So get comfortable with video. Got it. There’s so many people in our community and I get it. I just empathize that they’re like, oh. I’m happy to like either, write a blog or like maybe do an audio or something. But there’s something about being on video that it’s, pushes us out of our comfort zone. So we have to get more comfortable with that. And I think it’s valid to bring up.

In talking about social media broadly, I think that it’s just interesting to, see how much change we’ve experienced only in the past year. We’ve seen things like Twitter be purchased, right?

Elon Musk and like completely revamped. And you were talking about Twitter before, recently we’ve seen like Meta verification become a thing. There’s so much change that people never thought would happen. 

What do you think is a big issue that we have in social media today that perhaps hasn’t been addressed yet, but maybe should be?

Marina: I’m probably not the best person to answer this question mainly because, I come from the publishing world. And so social media, the algorithm is just something that, I just back 110%. Like I’ve never been the person that’s I hate this algorithm. It’s not pumping out my content. Like I love the Meta verification.

I think it’s actually really important with so many fake accounts that are existing. I think it’s also like a great way to legitimize account. What’s really cool specifically with that, they changed it so once you are meta verified, you actually don’t get extra reach. It does nothing at all besides just confirm that this is your only page. Right? 

And so I would say that, if Instagram or social made it so you had to pay to use the platform to reach more people, I would be more hesitant in saying oh, that’s the problem. But I’m glad that that’s not the case. I don’t know if I can highlight one specific problem on social, just because I think it just really depends on the relationship that you have with social. 

I strictly look at social media as just a marketing tool, and so I share my content, I engage with my community and I’m off of it. And I use things to promote and work with the algorithm rather than trying to work against it. Algorithm is a computer, so like SEO friendly words, like making sure I’m tagging everything, making sure that the posts that I’m posting has a description on the picture.

There’s just very like specific things that I do to support the organic growth of my page. Yeah, I don’t have a specific problem that I would say.

Jessy: No, but that’s super valid. What I heard you say is you’re like, I’m not working against it. I’m not looking at it as something that’s problematic. It’s a tool in your business. So like I’m just gonna work with it as much as possible. And I think that’s like an important sort of mindset to have and a very specific one.

But like I can totally appreciate the crap out of that. It’s so interesting, like cuz recently, I think it’s like in, at the end of March of this year, Twitter did something unprecedented and released its algorithms and people can see it publicly. 

And I was reading an article just this morning of somebody trying to like, interpret it for, us folks to who aren’t like programmers or anything to understand it and like that was interesting knew that I cannot imagine anybody ever foresaw that Change. 

And, but I think that, if there’s anything constant in this world, it is change. And so in that spirit, I think that your mentality is a really healthy one, which is like, just lean into it, lean into the change. It’s gonna continue to evolve we need it for our businesses. We rely on it heavily for our businesses at least.

So it would only benefit us to evolve with it and to lean into the new features and all of that. I can imagine that your clients though, and maybe you as well, there are ways that you, and they struggle. Like I know we talked a little bit about like confidence on video.

Are there any other ways that you’ve heard consistently where some of your clients have been like, ugh, like this is really causing me trouble and I love to be solutions oriented. So like how are they overcoming those things? I wanna hear cause I’m sure people in our audience could relate. So are there any things that come to mind?

Marina: Yeah, absolutely. One of the biggest things is I I don’t know what to post. We give so much power to our feed, whether it’s Instagram or YouTube or TikTok, but I’ll talk specifically Instagram. A lot of my clients are like, I don’t know what to post. I just can’t do it. Is this post perfect enough?

And so I always remind them progress is more important than perfection and best known beats best. So you can have the best strategy, the best funnel, like the best intention, the best content, like on your end. But if nobody knows you exist, it doesn’t matter, right? And so really asking yourself like how important and how much do I want this? And what do I have to do to get there? And I just need to show up. So that’s like check. Got that off the box. Off the list. 

So the second thing is I really want you to focus on like taking the power away from the feed. And it’s just using it as a series of content, like posting your pictures, posting your reels.

Like it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be progress. progress If you look at my pictures from 2013 to now, night and day, I still look at my pictures and I’m like, oh, this is not good enough, but I post it anyway. And so we are always going to be our, toughest critics, but you will post and you will get feedback of, oh my God, I really love this. Or, oh, I really needed to hear that. 

And so that’s one of the biggest things of I don’t know what to post or that fear of showing up and posting. And so when it comes to, I don’t know what to post, I actually double down on having content buckets. A lot of people teach this. It’s actually a really great way to organize everything that you wanna talk about.

And so the five content buckets that I like to hover over is, one, your story, it’s your biography. So really talking about anything past, future and present is going to be really beneficial when it comes to like connecting with people and, building that relatability. 

The second thing is it’s going to be really important to talk about whatever platform or whatever way you are, making money. So if that, if you’re an entrepreneur, that is going to be for your business. If you work at a company that’s going to be talking about that. So whatever way you. Make money, your monetization bucket. 

And the last three are your legacy buckets. So really thinking about like what do you want to be known for? You have to talk about those things. And so if you’re a fitness instructor, maybe your first bucket is movement. Second bucket is nutrition. Third bucket is mindset.

What are those things that you want to talk about that will have people look at it and be like, oh, this is great, I can really resonate with that, I’m going to hire that person. right Or I trust that person.

If you ever feel stuck, you always can go back to those buckets and be like, okay, I’m gonna pick from there. Oh, I have that. And it makes it easier to show up.

Jessy: I love that so much. I’m like sitting here taking notes, even what do you wanna be known for? What do you wanna be known for and what sort of legacy do you wanna leave? And I think that’s a really powerful thing to always have in mind. So I love that. I wanna talk like more about you, like what’s a personal or just like a professional goal that you have for this next year. What can we expect from you?

Marina: Ooh. Personal I really wanna do more traveling, with my husband and my son. I feel like we do lots of business trips, but, every once in a while we’ll do like a family trip and so personalized, I really wanna prioritize more of that. 

Professional wise, just, a larger impact when it comes to empowered confidence. I think a lot of us, we say that we’re really scared of failure, but really we’re sometimes scared of success. 

And so I’ve been really playing it small, believe it or not, in terms of what I want to do. And I gave a little sneak peek this year launching a, it’s called the Confidence Summit, or Hosting a Confidence Summit, which was my first large in-person event.

And after that, Oh heck yeah. Like I just wanna do larger events and tap in more amazing women so we can just create a bigger impact. And so that is like my number one goal for this year, and moving forward of like, how can I make a larger impact on more lives?

Jessy: I love that so much. And my last question for you today, how does your son react to everything that you do for a living? I love that, like I see him in your content and I know he’s such a prominent part of your life and what’s his reaction to everything?

Marina: Oh my God. He is the best thing in the world, like truly. And he loves everything that I do. He’s convinced that he’s famous, which is so cute and so funny. He loves it. He gets to see everything. He’s come on stages with me. He’s come to every single speaking event that I’ve ever done.

He will sit on coaching calls, consulting calls. I don’t care how large the client is, like he is there and I never apologize for that. And I think that gives him the permission to see his parents, cuz my husband’s also an entrepreneur. So seeing both of parents be entrepreneurs and doing the amazing things that we are doing and, I think it’s going to create such a beautiful impact on him as he gets older. But yeah, he thinks he’s just like the coolest thing in the world which I think is really cute.

Jessy: It is really cute. That’s so adorable. I am excited to see so much more from you. I excited to see him and your content. And I wanted you to go on like lots of amazing trips around the world with your family that have nothing to do with business. It’s been such a pleasure having you on. I know that our audience is gonna reach out, get in touch.

We’re gonna link everything, all of your socials and your website and about your conferences, like in the show notes. So check them out. What’s the best platform to reach you on if we were to pick just one and someone wants to reach you right away.

Marina: Instagram. Instagram I’m always on my Instagram probably too much. Instagram dm me. I am always responding.

Jessy: Amazing. All right, thank you so much, Marina. It’s been such a pleasure. And thank you guys all for tuning in today. We’ll see you next week.

Marina Middleton


Marina Middleton is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and podcast host committed solely to helping women build their personal brand.

She is the founder of Empowered Confidence, a personal brand agency. Empowered Confidence teaches current and future female leaders how to leverage their stories and authenticity to build stronger brands, businesses, and, most importantly, communities. Marina is also the host of the She Did It Anyway Podcast.
Prior to entrepreneurship, she earned a B.S. in marketing and minored in fashion at Johnson & Wales University. Following her college career, Marina worked for Yahoo!, Tumblr, and Yahoo! News, developing digital media campaigns for some of the most recognized global and Fortune 500 brands.

Her expertise has been featured across numerous publications, including Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, and more. She was named one of the Top 10 Successful Entrepreneurs to build their business during a global pandemic and led a mentor session at Create & Cultivate around how to build, monetize, and scale your brand.

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